What does digital fashion look like today? It’s a question that filled the panels at this week’s inaugural New Codes Digital Fashion Summit, which took place October 30-31.
At the Royal Institute in London’s Mayfair, experts and insiders from the fashion design, artificial intelligence, emerging technology, textiles and gaming industries gathered to discuss the next chapter of fashion’s creative renaissance and the role that Web3 will play in its evolution.
Digital fashion industry expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2031, says Allied Research. But the nascent landscape has struggled to find its place in the broader, highly speculative fashion industry after reaching peak hype in 2021.
In response, this year, brands and manufacturers have since streamlined the potential of 3D, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and Web3, accelerating a paradigm shift across the board. of the segment.
With speakers from The Fabricant, Vans, Drest and Outlier Ventures, Daily jing presents key takeaways from the two-day event and how brands can leverage the rapidly developing ecosystem.
Digital fashion’s boom-and-bust cycle isn’t over
After the hype died down in 2022, critics were quick to label Web3, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the metaverse “dead.” But Marco Marchesi, Director of Technology at The Fabricant, believes the industry is still showing signs of life.
“With these technologies, it takes many cycles for new ideas to take off and be adopted. The reality is that it is not yet completely understood, and it will take many cycles before we find stable ground,” he says.
Educating the public on the technical aspects of digital fashion will boost its credibility. “There is an assumption around the craft of digital fashion; they don’t realize how technically difficult this practice is,” says digital artist Stephy Fung.
Dani Loftus, founder of digital fashion house Draup, also says clunky and early-stage technology has prevented widespread adoption. “A lot of people were exposed to digital fashion for the first time last year,” says Loftus. “If you make a digital dress and the arm falls off, people are going to see that as confirmation bias. If it doesn’t work well, people will turn away from it. »
The role of gaming in shaping the concept of luxury among younger generations
The evolution of gaming platforms from social hub to commercial goldmine is potentially the biggest seismic shift in how brands reach audiences today. As Gen Z and Generation Alpha come of age and unleash their spending power, brands can no longer rely on outdated marketing tactics, such as magazine campaigns and celebrity partnerships, to attract attention.
As key demographics now reside in gaming destinations like Fornite and Roblox, early adopters are reaping the benefits by translating their identities into strong presences in these spaces.
“Play spaces are wearable spaces to play with,” says Philippa Morgan, director of content at Savant. “Brands are planting seeds in these spaces to reach these audiences. Attract young consumers; you’re not going to advertise in a parking lot, you’re going to go where the kids play.
Today, brands must be ready to fully engage in these new ecosystems and not hesitate to experiment with their image through play.
Generative AI: Fashion’s Most Disruptive and Promising Advance
This year has seen an unprecedented rise in generative AI, but the technology’s potential has yet to be fully realized in fashion. There remains a fundamental problem in how the industry approaches machine learning.
“If brands don’t jump on the bandwagon with products like AI, they will be left behind,” Marchesi », she says, referring to the reluctance of brands towards generative systems.
Fashion is slowly but surely being actively reshaped by AI. Last September’s fashion week alone saw Coperni, Collina Strada and Ganni each deploy the nascent technology on the catwalks.
But whether AI will replace creative roles such as designers, model makers and image makers remains a hot topic. Fung believes that technology cannot replace human contact.
“When we use AI, we can take on the role of art directors and creative directors, but AI can’t replicate what’s inside our brains. This curation has to come from us,” she says.
Beyond its creative scope, machine learning also helps brands make much more productive decisions throughout the supply chain. — both from an efficiency and environmental perspective.
Sasha Mcfarlane, executive director of Future Proof Fashion, highlights how, with trend cycles moving at record speed, “traditional manufacturing roadmaps cannot keep up with the rapid pace of consumer demand.” Generative AI disrupts the process by predicting customer trends and behavior months in advance, helping suppliers reduce waste.
Augmented reality improves consumer loyalty
The global augmented reality and virtual reality market size has been estimated at $38 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach around $372 billion by 2032, according to Priority search.
Pioneers such as Zero10 and Ffface.me are paving the way for augmented reality-based experiences in retail. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. This year, brands such as Tiffany & Co., Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and JD Sports have all leveraged AR to capture consumers’ attention.
“If you make a digital dress and the arm falls off, people are going to see that as confirmation bias. If it doesn’t work well, people will turn away from it. »
Beyond its novelty, Moin Roberts-Islam, Head of technological development at Fashion Innovation Agency, explains how AR has become a premium tool for collecting data and building consumer loyalty.
Speaking about one of the initiative’s latest AR activations, Roberts-Islam notes that “consumers expressed greater brand loyalty for having had this immersive experience. Ninety percent of the public said they would pay more for the product because they understood it better and liked it more.
Adapt, or risk being left behind
The digital fashion landscape remains fertile ground, with emerging technologies like AR, AI and Web3 already disrupting the industry.
Brands that still turn a blind eye to its potential run the risk of self-sabotage.
Even understanding the basics will soon be an indispensable tool, says Loftus. “Learning how to use something like a Discord server is absolutely monumental. These are valuable assets,” she says.
But there’s no point entering an increasingly digitized world without authenticity. Marchesi highlights how there must be a long-term, well-intentioned goal behind every digital activation.
“You’re not going to create revenue if you’re just trying to create revenue,” he says. “There’s no point trying to jump on the bandwagon for no reason, or if that reason is just to make a profit.”